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Monday, November 06, 2006


On a cold Thursday night, Brinie, Nephew (in from his dorm room at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan), Maestro and myself set up the stage lights and keyboards. Maestro produced a black-and-white photo of himself from 1973 or '74 playing the exact same stage. The ceiling tiles were identical. A waitress told us Billy Joel played there around the same time.

The next afternoon, we lugged in the remaining equipment and waited for the sound company, so we could have a sound check. I tested my new wireless unit at every corner of the ballroom. It worked great! The only problem was the weird delay you get when you're far away from the amp. Brinie, Karch and I ran through the Foghat song with Johnny filling in on drums. Smooth as silk. We even got to perfect our stage volume. We worked it out so that the guitars were at equal volumes just loud enough to be on top of the bass and drums. The sound guy, we figured, could take it from there.

When the sound guy got there, he said, "Don't take this the wrong way," and went on to explain that he's done this a million times, and we don't really need to wait around for him to set up, which will take more than an hour, just so we can get a sound check. Minutes before showtime, he could just sample us individually, and then mix us on the spot. It sounded sensible to me. What did I know? But I would regret it before the night was over.

Fro showed up and tested out Johnny's kit. Then me, Fro, Nephew and Brinie went to the very same diner my dad used to take our family to on Sunday mornings after Mass. We were all pretty psyched, telling each other how much (posterior) we were gonna kick. Being Irish and superstitious, I felt a twinge of Counting Our Chickens, but I was too far gone to reel myself in.

Brinie, Nephew and I pulled into the parking lot about a half-hour before show time. The lot was mobbed, which made us extremely happy. I pushed my way to the stage at the back of the ballroom, trying to straddle the fine line between not conversing with a soul AND not appearing to be rude. It's stupidity itself for a singer to have a pre-show conversation in a crowded bar; shouting just a few sentences over the din compromises much needed vocal longevity. But you can't wear a sign that says, "CAN'T TALK NOW," either. My sister felt I snubbed her at the July 15 gig.

Once at the stage, I set up my good old B.C. Rich Mockingbird, tuning up the new-fashioned way using a digital monitor indicating flat, sharp or in tune. The technique is new to this recklessly old-school cat, but I practiced it during rehearsals -- something that came in REAL handy later in the show.


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